AAP in the air: Kerjriwal’s party laying ground for its big leap to national stage
When few gave him a chance against Sheila Dikshit, Arvind Kejriwal beat her by 25,000 votes and formed the government in Delhi. While no one believed their government would be incident-free, the AAP regime heaved from one controversy to another. And just as people started to say he made empty threats, Kejriwal exited in a dramatic resignation.
It’s now just over a week since that 49-day government fell, but the fledgling party is revving the momentum it generated to try and take it from Delhi’s Civil Lines to the Capital’s Raisina Hill. More importantly, the party appears ready for the metamorphosis it requires even as it again changes the rules of the game and others scramble to catch up.
Since Kejriwal resigned as CM, the party has been busy: releasing a list of candidates across states, launching an aggressive funding drive and taking its anti-corruption drive several notches higher to India’s richest man, even as it prepares a list of its government’s achievements in Delhi, to form the fulcrum of its campaign.
AAP’s success in Delhi hinged on a door-to-door campaign, the support of the omnipresent autorickshaws and a media blitz. But for that, the party had toiled for a little more than a year, with over 40 of the 70 candidates declared months before the elections. Campaigning too was limited to a few hundred square kilometres.
With that canvas now spanning close to 20 states, AAP is looking at television as its force multiplier. The volunteers who were the heart of AAP’s Delhi campaign will supplement that, reaching out to corners with little media reach. Several volunteers from Delhi now have constituencies or even states under them. “We have now been in government and the challenge is to take that experience across the country,” says Gopal Mohan, who was Kejriwal’s campaign manager for the Assembly elections.
There is a flipside to it. In the first wave of AAP excitement, when it sprung from the India Against Corruption movement, the media devoted a lot of space to it. The brush with power and controversy in Delhi has ended that honeymoon. “They either support you, or completely trash the work that the party does,” says an AAP leader wryly.
A large part of strategising for the Lok Sabha polls revolves around advertising the work done in Delhi. “We need to advertise to counter those, including the media, that question our continued…